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At 'Om' with the Beatles

(March 2008) posted on Mon Mar 03, 2008

Circa 1968 photographs adorn Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Angela Prues

"We do a lot of work for the airport," says Ryan Blockley, P&K’s finance director. "Not as big as this job was going to be, but we’ve done advertising lightboxes as well as billboards, directional signage, and so on." In addition to wide-format work, the shop also takes on small-format digital, LED and lighting systems, lamination and install work, and other jobs.

Recalls Saltzman: "I was looking for a production house to do the manufacturing and installation, and had contacted several from Internet research-but was not thrilled. When I asked Neil Pakey who did the small ad lightboxes in the airport, he put me onto P&K. And they become an obvious choice-from the kind of work they did in general, the quality of their work, and their intimate familiarity with installation at the airport."

P&K first did a few initial test prints, then output test images approximately one-third the size of the finals. Saltzman and Aquino were on-hand for three days during the test-print process, working with the files and giving their blessing for what would be the final output.

Final output ran on P&K’s Nur Expedio 3200 UV digital press, printing onto backlit flex PVC. Because of the high ink saturation that lightboxes necessitate, the shop took things slow and printed double density. "The seven images were printed over two to three days because they were printed on the highest setting, and they had to be suitable for backlighting," says Blockley. In addition, a clear border was left around each image to allow for placement in each lightbox.

In all, P&K produced seven images-six measuring approximately 8 feet tall x 23 feet wide, and a seventh measuring 8 feet tall x 7 feet wide. Tensioning boxes were used for mounting, and clips attached the PVC to the flexible-faced tensioning system. Installation occurred nightly over the next week, since P&K’s installers were allowed to work only during minimal airport traffic times.

Shine until tomorrow

The seven lightboxed images will permanently adorn the Liverpool John Lennon Airport lounge, paying homage to the local quartet. It’s a rare opportunity to see the real, young faces of four men who had an immeasurable impact on the world of music.

In late 2007, a press reception accompanied the unveiling of the installation. The light switch was flipped on, and the candid images that Paul Saltzman had shot all those years ago glowed, illuminating the entire John Lennon departure lounge.

In attendance that day, Saltzman gasped, "Wow, it’s even better than we imagined."